Sermon October 5, 2014 – Walking With Purpose (Eph 5:1-9)

October 5, 2014 – LWML Sunday                             Text:  Ephesians 5:1-9

 Dear Friends in Christ,

             Educators have done studies on how children spend their days at school – how many minutes spent reading at their desks, how many minutes spent going to the restroom or the drinking fountain, how many minutes sharpening their pencils and so on.  Down to the minute.  Down to a science.  Blocks of time devoted to all sorts of things you’d expect children to do in school.  Plus at least one activity we might not expect:  “walking with no purpose.”  That’s right:  “walking with no purpose.”  Studies have found that in a normal day, a very normal child will spend a certain number of minutes walking from here to there for no good reason.  Curious and interesting.

            We are children of God, and our lives as Christians are often described as a walk, as St. Paul does in our text today, our Epistle from Ephesians 5.  Are we walking with no purpose?  Paul exhorts us in our text to be . . .

“WALKING WITH PURPOSE”

            The fact is it’s not just schoolchildren who walk with no purpose.  People of all ages, spend their lives walking through life not really knowing what it is all about.  Paul calls this darkness in our text.  “For at one time, you were darkness.” (v. 8a)

            We live in a world of darkness.  People are entangled and enslaved by sin.  We can try to redefine it, excuse it, redecorate it, or hide it, but sin is at the bottom of what makes life and relationships difficult, hurtful, sick, and dying.  Trying to hide this darkness just brings about “deception” and “empty words.”  These things serve no purpose.  Paul lists some of them:  filthiness, crude joking, foolish talk, sexually impure, covetous.  These are all common in the world around us.  So common, but they serve no purpose.

            Sin can do that.  Because of sin, we use God’s name only to condemn others or justify ourselves.  Because of sin, we ignore or despise God’s Word and do not worship him.  Because of sin, our relationships with others – father and mother, husband and wife, parent and child, enemies and friends, co-workers and strangers – all these are disrupted and destroyed.  And none of these actions serve any meaningful purpose.  By nature, we are children of darkness with no purpose.

            Because we cannot free ourselves from this darkness, God in his mercy determined to save us.  His mercy shone like a beacon of light when he promised Adam and Eve a Savior from sin.  This light of salvation burned as hope in God’s people through the centuries until that light exploded like a supernova over Bethlehem when “the Word became flesh.” (John 1:14)  When life and death went at each other on the cross it looked like darkness was winning.  But the light of salvation could not be put out.  It was stronger than the darkness.  The reign of death was ended.

            Suddenly, we see things in a whole new way.  We see God for who he really is:  not distant or disinterested in our lives, but he is here, present, eager to have a relationship with each one of us.  That is what Jesus lets us see in his light.  God is not angry and keeping score on how well we keep his Commandments, but forgiving, not counting our sins against us, because Jesus took them upon himself on the cross.  That is what we see as children of light.  “Now you are light in the Lord.”

            As “light in the Lord” we are now able to “walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true.)” (vs. 8b-9)  We now have a purpose.  We walk in repentance and faith.  We walk in forgiveness.  We walk with a purpose to invite the world to the glorious light of salvation in Jesus Christ.

            Today is Lutheran Women’s Missionary League Sunday.  Lutheran women who also walk with a purpose.  These daughters of Zion and many others in our congregation give pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and dollars in the interest of missions.  Combine ours with the rest of Synod and some wonderful mission projects are funded.  Walking with purpose.

            When we all with faithful obedience, study the Word of God, when we dwell together in unity, when we faithfully hold the confession of the church in this perverse generation, when we speak faith, when we love one another, fragrant offerings and sacrifices rise up to the nostrils of our merciful, holy, and gracious God and Father.  Walking with purpose.

            Every work of the saints of God from quilt sewing to helping with a funeral dinner all serves a purpose for the greater good of Christianity.  Christ’s kingdom is extended in these works of mercy.

            May the Holy Spirit lead you out of darkness into His marvelous light.  Walking in the light of Christ is to walk as children of God with purpose.

                                                                                                                                    Amen.

October 5, 2014 Bulletin Announcements

Next Sunday  October 12th will be our 2nd Sunday Offering for Reverend Michael Kearney and Seminarian Christopher Suggitt.

Portals of Prayer  The October – December Portals of Prayer are available on the bookrack located in the narthex.  Large print also available.  Pick up your free copy today.

Thank you  The church has received a “Thank you” note from Seminarian Chris Suggitt thanking the congregation for your continued support.  The letter is posted on the bulletin board outside of the church office.

Fellowship Hosts  The sign-up for help with coffee/doughnuts is posted on the wall by the north stairwell.  We need an individual/family to sign up each week to pick up the donuts and make the coffee.  If no one is signed up by Friday of each week, the order will be cancelled.  We thank everybody who continues to help with this part of our church fellowship.

LWML Lutheran World Relief  The LWML ladies will be working on Health Kits again this year.  We would like to solicit your help in purchasing items for the Health Kits which will be sent to Lutheran World Relief.  The stores will soon have these items marked down for the college students that will be returning.  This is a wonderful opportunity to get great specials.  A list of items needed is on the table in the narthex.  If  you have questions, please feel free to call Joann Hart.  Thank you.

The Lutheran Hour  Today’s the Day for God’s Grace for All is the topic for next Sunday.  The sermon text will be from Revelations 7:9-12.  The ruins of ancient Pompeii show how life can change in an instant.  (Footsteps of St. Paul; Part 4)  The speaker will be Reverend Gregory Seltz.  Hear this Sunday’s message on the Lutheran Hour on WGN (720 AM) at 6am; WJWR (104.7 FM) and WJWR (90.3 FM) both on Sunday at 3pm.  Also, if you can receive Lincoln, IL radio station WLLM (1370 AM) the program is broadcast two times on Sunday at 7am and 7pm.  Tune in!  You can listen to the Lutheran Hour on your personal computer at RealAudio, www.lhm.org

Celebrating October 2014

Birthdays

Thomas Anderson           10/1

E.F. Bud Barnett              10/2

Stacia Dowell                  10/10

Fern Noth                                10/10

Barry Hamlin                   10/11

Jessica Isaac                  10/11

Payton Biddle                  10/12

John Hardy                      10/12

Travis Henson                 10/15

Maria Kirchner                 10/15

Jacquelyn Semelka         10/17

Shane Miller                    10/21

Sierra Parker                   10/22

Audrey Gronert                10/23

Chloe Hitch                      10/23

Teresa Casselman          10/24

Abby Biddle                     10/25

Cheryl Reichert               10/28

Baptismal Birthdays

Eli McNeely                     10/2

William McNeely             10/2

Chad Lueck                     10/3

Brian Dirks                       10/4

Cortney Brewer               10/9

William Huber                  10/9

Andrea Reichert              10/9

Ryne Brewer                    10/13

Jessie Brown                   10/13

Michalene Hull                10/20

Cleo Korte                       10/20

Steve Davis                     10/27

Pastor’s Notes, October 2014

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, 

Young children like to pretend they are adults.  How many of you women – when you were young – used to dress up in your mother’s clothes or put on her makeup?  How many of you men would sit in the car and pretend you were driving?  I use to stand in the pulpit and pretend that I was preaching.  When we are young, we want to grow up so that we can do grown-up things. 

We are proud of our kids when they mature and learn to do new things.  We say things like, “Cammie can now ride her bike.”  “Donavan is really learning to treat people with respect.”  Parents know what their kids need to grow and mature. 

How about in the church?   

At Good Shepherd we have in our bulletin announcements every week this:  “We believe children belong in worship.”  And they do, you know?  Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me.”  Isn’t it such a blessing to watch our kids mature in their faith?  They learn by our example to participate in the liturgy, to sing the hymns, to pray the Lord’s Prayer.  They see older siblings serve as acolytes or ushers and then they move into that role.  We nurture our children in the worship life of the church. 

I have always given my wife Toni a lot of credit for this with Karson and Holden.  She was the one in the pew with them.  I was leading worship.  I am proud of all of their accomplishments but to see them worship their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the greatest gift the Lord can give a parent.  I look forward to them being the spiritual leaders of their own household. 

Many times over the years it has been the children of the parish that point out something amiss in the liturgy or something not positioned right in the sanctuary.  They even like to point out when the Pastor speaks an incorrect word!  To me, that is a blessing because they are paying attention. 

We are all part of the church together – what a blessing!  May the Lord lead us to help one another to grow in our Christian faith. 

In Christ, 

Pastor 

October Usher and Elder Schedule

Date
8:30
Elder
10:30
Oct 5Jeff Piper, John Hardy, Matthew Holland, Steve ParryBarry HamlinMike Huth, Theron Noth
Oct 12David Orr, Gerald SemelkaCraig CulpBud Kessler, Curt Kessler, Marvin Huth, Ryan Kleiboeker
Oct 19Daryle Schempp, Lucas Schempp, Mike Field, Paul GerikeCurt KesslerBryan Reichert, Karson Lueck
Oct 26Joshua Parry, Steve DavisPaul GerikeBrian Dirks, Greg McNeely, Holden Lueck, Travis Henson

September 28, 2014 Bulletin Announcements

Blood Drive  Our 2nd annual blood drive will be on Monday, September 29th from 2-6pm.  You may sign-up on the sheet in the narthex or at www.redcross.org and follow the “donate blood” box.  Sign-ups are also available for baked goods, helping at the reception desk or in the canteen (where food and drink are served after giving the gift of life).  If you have never given and need a reassuring word, please speak with Pastor Lueck, a long-time blood donor.

Portals of Prayer  The October – December Portals of Prayer are available on the bookrack located in the narthex.  Large print also available.  Pick up your free copy today.

Dave Orr Website  Our family has created a page about Dave’s health issues and what is still needed for him on a website entitled caringbridge.com.  Once the website is accessed just enter Dave Orr to access his page.  We truly are blessed with the outpouring of prayers and concern the members of Good Shepherd have shown us.  Many thanks and God Bless!  Dave and Pat Orr

Thank you  The church has received a “Thank you” note from Seminarian Chris Suggitt thanking the congregation for your continued support.  The letter is posted on the bulletin board outside of the church office.

Fellowship Hosts  The sign-up for help with coffee/doughnuts is posted on the wall by the north stairwell.  We need an individual/family to sign up each week to pick up the donuts and make the coffee.  If no one is signed up by Friday of each week, the order will be cancelled.  We thank everybody who continues to help with this part of our church fellowship.

Lost & Found  If you are missing an item please check out the Lost & Found located on the bulletin board in the church office.

LWML Lutheran World Relief  The LWML ladies will be working on Health Kits again this year.  We would like to solicit your help in purchasing items for the Health Kits which will be sent to Lutheran World Relief.  The stores will soon have these items marked down for the college students that will be returning.  This is a wonderful opportunity to get great specials.  A list of items needed is on the table in the narthex.  If  you have questions, please feel free to call Joann Hart.  Thank you.

You are invited  Our Redeemer Lutheran Church of Eureka will hold its 25th annual hog roast on this coming Saturday, October 4th from 4-7 pm.  Tickets are $10 in advance and $11 at the door for adults and $5 for children 12 and under.  Carryout is also available.  The menu is roast pork, barbeque sauce, potato salad, applesauce, baked beans, rolls and butter, cake or pie, and a drink.  Pastor Lueck has two complimentary tickets.  You can reserve tickets by calling Our Redeemer’s church office.

The Lutheran Hour  Show Me the Money?  No, Show Me Jesus!  is the topic for next Sunday.  The sermon text will be from Ephesians 2:8-10.  St. Paul urges us to get down to brass tacks, face faith facts, and trust in the Good News of God’s grace in Jesus.  (Footsteps of St. Paul; Part 4)  The speaker will be Reverend Gregory Seltz.  Hear this Sunday’s message on the Lutheran Hour on WGN (720 AM) at 6am; WJWR (104.7 FM) and WJWR (90.3 FM) both on Sunday at 3pm.  Also, if you can receive Lincoln, IL radio station WLLM (1370 AM) the program is broadcast two times on Sunday at 7am and 7pm.  Tune in!  You can listen to the Lutheran Hour on your personal computer at RealAudio, www.lhm.org

September 28, 2014 Sermon

September 28, 2014                                        Text:  Philippians 2:1-4, 14-18

Dear Friends in Christ,

            Don’t fall out of your pew on this one – but I watch a lot of sports.  I know you are shocked, but it is true.  One thing I hear the announcers talk about periodically is that a certain player is “a difference maker.”  They are conveying to the audience that some players have skills and abilities that can change a game.  They run faster, hit harder, pitch better than their fellow players.  They make a difference for their team, which usually leads to winning.

            How about you?  Do you consider yourself a difference maker?  Not in the sports arena but in the life arena.  Do you like to just sit on the sidelines and complain about people and the world?  Or do you like to get in the game, use your God-given skills and abilities to further advance the cause of Christianity down the field?

            This morning Paul is addressing his brothers and sisters in Christ at Philippi.  A congregation founded by Paul and one he still watched over.  He knew the challenges they were up against.  But he had a game plan they could each be a part of.  This morning so can you . . .

“BEING A DIFFERENCE MAKER”

            Paul knew what his fellow Christians were battling.  He said they were “in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation.” (v. 15b)  Don’t we hear the same words being used about the times we live in?  Crooked in the generation that has left the straight paths of the Lord.  Crooked in mind and in heart and thus in acts means lying thought.  Truth is straight but lies are crooked or twisted.

            Have you heard or seen this one?  It is called “the blasphemy challenge” and it is used by atheists to further their agenda and to expose the “crock that is Christian doctrine.”  They want their followers to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit and this verse from Mark 3:29:  “But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.”  This is how twisted things are.  People who supposedly don’t believe in the Trinity want to sin against it.  But, of course, they wouldn’t call it a sin.

            In the political arena two agendas have been advanced.  Marijuana and same-sex marriage.  Having grown up in the 70’s and 80’s I didn’t think I would see a day when marijuana was looked on more favorably than smoking.  I don’t want to argue the medicinal purposes but we know this will lead to abuses as we are already seeing.

            When it comes to same-sex marriage and parenting I read this interesting quote:  “You encourage a consumerist model of parenting.  It encourages the idea that individuals have a right to a kid, instead of viewing children as a gift and a great blessing.”

            In this crooked and twisted generation we live in a “social revolution that attempts to define what you’re allowed to think and do in the public square.”

            So, how do you and I make a difference?  First, Paul’s advice:  “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (vs. 3-4)  These admonitions all come because of our connection to Christ.

            Gandhi had this interesting quote during his lifetime:  “I don’t refuse Christianity because of the Christian Scriptures but because of Christians.”  Ouch!  We can’t be self-righteous but we must make an honest assessment of ourselves.  We can be crooked in thoughts and deeds.  We can become twisted in our thinking if it fits an agenda or manipulates a situation.  We are not immune to the garbage that is coming our way, day by day by day.  And then some of us don’t want to be difference-makers because we think there isn’t anything that can stop the tide that is sweeping over us.  Satan and sin and the world win when we become apathetic.  Talk about the sidelines, some don’t want to leave the locker room.

            But leave it we must.  Contact with the world cannot be avoided.  Ever and ever we must have it impressed upon us that we are different from the world, must be told what is the matter with the world, and what we have that makes us different.  Look at Paul’s encouragement, “Holding fast to the word of life.” (16a)  Paul labored because of his confidence in the Word of God.

            Do you have that same confidence in the Word?  As Scripture says, “These words…are life.”  They increase our spiritual life.  This Word called us in the waters of Holy Baptism.  This Word strengthens are daily walk.  Holding fast to the Word of Life continuously reminds us of the forgiveness and life we have in Christ.  This Word of Life is power as the Holy Spirit helps us to become difference makers.  The Word of Life in Holy Communion can make the weak strong.  It is a spiritual boost for the days ahead.

            As the text tells us, we are to “shine as lights in the world.” (v. 15c)  Even imperfect Christians shine.  When Jesus spoke to his imperfect disciples he did not use the future tense:  “You shall be the light of the world,” but the present:  “You are the light of the world.” (Matt. 5:14)  And you are you know?  The littlest things you do for others can make a difference.  The big things you shout from the rooftops can make a difference.  As with a ballplayer, God has gifted you with certain gifts and abilities that start to make the crooked straight, and the twisted start to untangle.

            The social scientist I quoted earlier on same-sex parenting had this to say later in his presentation.  France is proof “of signs that people are fed up with the fruits of the sexual revolution.  Human nature is reasserting itself.”

            Be faithful.  That is all that is asked of a difference maker.

                                                                                                                        Amen.

September 14, 2014 Bulletin Announcements

Adult Instruction Class continues tomorrow, Monday, September 15th at 7pm and lasts about an hour.  The class is designed for non-members who would like to learn more about the Lutheran Church and its teachings.  It is also a good refresher course for members.

Today is our monthly door offering for Reverend Michael Kearney and Seminarian Chris Suggitt.

The Ladies Morning Bible Study will meet this Tuesday, September 16th at 9:30 am at the church.  If you have any questions please see or contact Angelina Isaac.

Next Sunday is the deadline for items to be submitted for the October Newsletter.  Mandy Kluender is our Editor for the church newsletter and any announcements you want to be published in the Newsletter should be submitted to her at mgkluender@hotmail.com.

Quilting  We will be pinning and sewing quilt hems this coming Saturday, September 20th from 9am – 12pm for Lutheran World Relief.  If you have a portable machine to bring and would like to sew hems or pin hems, we would appreciate your help.  Any questions, call Luanne Huth.

Blood Drive  Our 2nd annual blood drive will be on Monday, September 29th from 2-6pm.  You may sign-up on the sheet in the narthex or at www.redcross.org and follow the “donate blood” box.  Sign-ups are also available for baked goods, helping at the reception desk or in the canteen (where food and drink are served after giving the gift of life).  If you have never given and need a reassuring word, please speak with Pastor Lueck, a long-time blood donor.

Dave Orr Website  Our family has created a page about Dave’s health issues and what is still needed for him on a website entitled caringbridge.com.  Once the website is accessed just enter Dave Orr to access his page.  We truly are blessed with the outpouring of prayers and concern the members of Good Shepherd have shown us.  Many thanks and God Bless!  Dave and Pat Orr

Fellowship Hosts  The sign-up for help with coffee/doughnuts is posted on the wall by the north stairwell.  We need an individual/family to sign up each week to pick up the donuts and make the coffee.  If no one is signed up by Friday of each week, the order will be cancelled.  We thank everybody who continues to help with this part of our church fellowship.

The Pregnancy Resource Center’s Annual Life Banquet is Thursday, September 18th from 7-9pm at the Double Tree Hotel.  Advance reservations can be made until Monday, September 15th at Bloomington@hopeforafuture.com or by calling (309)454-5433.  There is no cost to attend.  This year’s speaker is former Presidential candidate and Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.

LWML Lutheran World Relief  The LWML ladies will be working on Health Kits again this year.  We would like to solicit your help in purchasing items for the Health Kits which will be sent to Lutheran World Relief.  The stores will soon have these items marked down for the college students that will be returning.  This is a wonderful opportunity to get great specials.  A list of items needed is on the table in the narthex.  If  you have questions, please feel free to call Joann Hart.  Thank you.

Marriage Seminar  Christ Lutheran Church is Normal is hosting a Marriage Seminar on Saturday, September 20, 2014.  Details on the Seminar and information on how to register is posted on the bulletin board outside the church office.

The Lutheran Hour  The Gospel Comes to Law and Order People is the topic for next Sunday.  The sermon text will be from Acts 28:11-16,28-31.  God used the Roman Legal system to bring the Apostle Paul and the Gospel message to Rome.  (Footsteps of St. Paul; Part2.)   The speaker will be Reverend Gregory Seltz.  Hear this Sunday’s message on the Lutheran Hour on WGN (720 AM) at 6am; WJWR (104.7 FM) and WJWR (90.3 FM) both on Sunday at 3pm.  Also, if you can receive Lincoln, IL radio station WLLM (1370 AM) the program is broadcast two times on Sunday at 7am and 7pm.  Tune in!  You can listen to the Lutheran Hour on your personal computer at RealAudio, www.lhm.org